Stalin's five-year plans of the 1930s had resulted in the industrialisation of the Urals and central Asia. Belarus lost a quarter of its pre-war population, including practically all its intellectual elite. After the war, the battle near Prochorovka was idealised by Soviet historians as the largest tank battle of all time. During the Warsaw Uprising, the Red Army were ordered to halt at the Vistula River. According to Zhukov, "During the winter offensive, the forces of the Western Front had advanced from 70 to 100 km, which somewhat improved the overall operational and strategic situation on the Western sector."[84]:64. To the south, the Second Ukrainian Front (ex Steppe Front) had crossed the Dnieper at Kremenchug and continued westwards. In the winter of 1941–1942 Hitler believed that his obstinate refusal to allow the German armies to retreat had saved Army Group Centre from collapse. Having already isolated the Crimea by severing the Perekop isthmus, Malinovsky's forces advanced across the mud to the Romanian border, not stopping on the river Prut. [64], While German historians do not apply any specific periodisation to the conduct of operations on the Eastern Front, all Soviet and Russian historians divide the war against Germany and its allies into three periods, which are further subdivided into eight major campaigns of the Theatre of war:[65], Operation Barbarossa began just before dawn on 22 June 1941. "[111] Conversely, General George Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, calculated that without the Eastern Front, the United States would have had to double the number of its soldiers on the Western Front.[112]. On 17 September, the Soviet Union invaded Eastern Poland, and, as a result, Poland was partitioned among Germany, the Soviet Union and Lithuania. A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga on 23 August but for the next three months the Wehrmacht would be fighting the Battle of Stalingrad street-by-street. [110] It involved more land combat than all other World War II theatres combined. [89], In a lightning campaign, the Germans were pushed back from Leningrad and Novgorod was captured by Soviet forces. camps in the Soviet Union. The fighting involved millions of Axis and Soviet troops along the broadest land front in military history. Hitler's only real concern was that a sudden German invasion of Poland might alarm Stalin and trigger a war with the Soviet Union. On 31 January 1943, the 90,000 survivors of the 300,000-man 6th Army surrendered. That is to say not every fourth inhabitant but almost 40% of the pre-war Belarusian population perished (considering the present-day borders of Belarus). I need the Ukraine so that they can't starve us out, as happened in the last war. After the war the Soviets once again purged the Red Army (though not as brutally as in the 1930s) and demoted many successful officers (including Zhukov, Malinovsky and Koniev) to unimportant positions. There were also numerous foreign units recruited by Germany, including the, Hungary had been independent through out the war until 1944 when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary due to suspicions of the Hungarians joining the Allies and reliance on its oil fields. Among other goods, Lend-Lease supplied:[51]:8–9, Lend-Lease aid of military hardware, components and goods to the Soviet Union constituted to 20% percent of the assistance. The official Polish government report of war losses prepared in 1947 reported 6,028,000 victims out of a population of 27,007,000 ethnic Poles and Jews; this report excluded ethnic Ukrainian and Belarusian losses. Hitler had always intended to renege on his pact with the Soviet Union, eventually making the decision to invade in the spring of 1941. Throughout the 1930s the Soviet Union underwent massive industrialisation and economic growth under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Among these were 19 panzer divisions, and in total the “Barbarossa” force had about 3,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery pieces, and 2,500 aircraft. Some Soviet citizens would side with the Germans and join Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army, Ukrainian Liberation Army, Georgian Legion and other Ostlegionen units. ), "Strategische Lage im Frühjahr 1944", Jodl, Vortrag 5 May 1944. [70][71], Army Group Centre's two panzer groups (the 2nd and 3rd), advanced to the north and south of Brest-Litovsk and converged east of Minsk, followed by the 2nd, 4th, and 9th Armies. During the war, as Germany acquired new territories (either by direct annexation or by installing puppet governments in defeated countries), these new territories were forced to sell raw materials and agricultural products to German buyers at extremely low prices. Estimated civilian deaths range from about 14 to 17 million. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler and part of the German atomic bomb program. [38][39] In the spring of 1940, Germany had mobilised 5,500,000 men. Army Group North's objective was Leningrad via the Baltic states. [147] Official OKW Casualty Figures list 65% of Heer killed/missing/captured as being lost on the Eastern Front from 1 September 1939, to 1 January 1945 (four months and a week before the conclusion of the war), with front not specified for losses of the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe.[148]. [115] Wild fauna were also affected. In July 1940, just weeks a… For example, while the USSR was able to produce fuel of octane numbers from 70 to 74, Soviet industry only met 4% of demand for fuel of octane numbers from 90+; all aircraft produced after 1939 required fuel of the latter category. While not a part of the Eastern Front operations, it is included here because the commanders and much of the forces used by the Red Army came from the European Theatre of operations and benefited from the experience gained there. The tremendous strain of that winter campaign, on armies which had not been prepared for it, had other serious effects. But the Vyazma battle had not been completed until late October; the German troops were tired, the country became a morass as the weather got worse, and fresh Soviet forces appeared in the path as they plodded slowly forward. As the Soviet Union's manpower reserves ran low from 1943 onwards, the great Soviet offensives had to depend more on equipment and less on the expenditure of lives. It was by far the deadliest single theatre of the European portion of World War II with up to 8.7 - 10 million military deaths on the Soviet side (although, depending on the criteria used, casualties in the Far East theatre may have been similar in number). Naval vessels alone constituted 10–15% of Germany's war expenditures from 1940 to 1944 depending on the year, while armoured vehicles by comparison were only 5–8%.[135]. 227, issued on 28 July 1942, threatened commanders who retreated without orders with punishment by court-martial. ), CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2021 (. Citing K.F. [60] It was a vital part of the German economic exploitation of conquered territories. The Soviets, by contrast, were well clad and tended to fight more effectively in winter than did the Germans. [51]:133–4, Prof. Dr. Albert L. Weeks conclude: 'As to attempts to sum up the importance of those four-year-long shipments of Lend-Lease for the Russian victory on the Eastern Front in World War II, the jury is still out – that is, in any definitive sense of establishing exactly how crucial this aid was.'[51]:123. By the end of August 1944, it had cost the Germans ~400,000 dead, wounded, missing and sick, from whom 160,000 were captured, as well as 2,000 tanks and 57,000 other vehicles. Much of the combat took place in or close to populated areas, and the actions of both sides contributed to massive loss of civilian life and tremendous material damage. [57] In 1941, Germany only had 18% of the oil it had in peacetime. [51]:129, In the last year of war, lend-lease data show that about 5.1 million tons of foodstuff left the United States for the Soviet Union. Both wings would converge on the area east of Kursk, and by that means restore the lines of Army Group South to the exact points that it held over the winter of 1941–1942. Jatkosodan pikkujättiläinen (in Finnish) (1st ed.). The German high water mark was just before Battle of Kursk, in early July 1943: 3,403,000 German troops and 650,000 Finnish, Hungarian, Romanian and other countries troops.[36][37]. The Soviet advance continued along the railway line until the 1939 Polish–Soviet border was reached on 3 January 1944. Factories were dismantled and transported on flatcars away from the front line for re-establishment in more remote areas of the Ural Mountains, Caucasus, Central Asia and south-eastern Siberia. The southern offensive, spearheaded by 4th Panzer Army, led by Gen. Col. Hoth, with three Tank Corps made more headway. [142][143][144] Axis military deaths were 5 million of which around 4,000,000 were German deaths. To carry out that order, destruction battalions were formed in front-line areas, having the authority to summarily execute any suspicious person. [17], Hitler referred to the war in radical terms, calling it a "war of annihilation" (Vernichtungskrieg) which was both an ideological and racial war. [167], Hitler's notorious Commissar Order called for Soviet political commissars, who were responsible for ensuring that Red Army units remained politically reliable, to be summarily shot when identified amongst captured troops. For a discussion of the term itself, see, Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov: Autumn 1941, Repression and genocide in occupied territories, Первый период Великой Отечественной войны, Второй период Великой Отечественной войны, Третий период Великой Отечественной войны, Germany's allies, in total, provided a significant number of troops and material to the front. But Bock wanted to press on, believing that the Soviets were on the verge of collapse, while Brauchitsch and Halder tended to agree with his view. [16] The vast majority of German soldiers viewed the war in Nazi terms, seeing the Soviet enemy as sub-human. Barbarossa was a three-pronged attack. The German army group "Narwa" included Estonian conscripts, defending the re-establishment of Estonian independence.[90][91]. The Germans had transferred some units to France to counter the invasion of Normandy two weeks before. Certainly, the peace negotiations in April had gone nowhere. Hitler’s decision was influenced by his economists, who mistakenly told him that Germany could not continue the war unless it obtained petroleum supplies from the Caucasus. Himmler pronounced a plan according to which ​3⁄4 of the Belarusian population was designated for "eradication" and ​1⁄4 of the racially 'cleaner' population (blue eyes, light hair) would be allowed to serve Germans as slaves. "[84]:59–62, By April 1942, the Soviet Supreme Command agreed to assume the defensive so as to "consolidate the captured ground." [45], British historians Alan S. Milward and M. Medlicott show that Nazi Germany—unlike Imperial Germany—was prepared for only a short-term war (Blitzkrieg). 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